Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 3, 2007
Faith-filled parishioners revere joy
Guatemalan community church practices the mission of their faith
A Missionary's Musings
By FR. JACQUES JOHNSON
The community of La Laguna is a 45-minute drive from Chicaman, my headquarters in Guatemala. As I drove, I realized that I was going to celebrate Mass in this community for only the second time in almost two years.
I was excited, overjoyed, at visiting a community I hardly know.
How will the people be? Will they even show up? Will my homily be appropriate?
Three men greeted me as I was parking the truck near the church. They were very friendly and they seemed relieved that I had arrived, as one of them would have had to lead a lay-led service in my absence.
A loved church
I asked about their church and its history. As it turned out their church is about seven years old. It looked new and well cared for.
Father Jose Manuel of Mexico, who's now the superior of our other very large parish with its 150 communities, was responsible for finding the funds and getting the people involved in the project.
By Mass time the church was packed. The people get one Mass and a visit from the missionary every second month or six times a year. Visibly they are blessed with good leadership in order to facilitate the programs to have their parish running as well as it is.
What struck me about this community is that they all seem to be involved in the life of the Church. They are well organized with good leadership and lots of people involved.
The lack of a regular priest need not be a disaster. Rather it seems to provide opportunities for more people to assume responsibilities and do them well.
The teaching of the Catholic faith is divided among teams of local men and women who regularly meet with groups of young people helping them to learn their faith.
I met a man who told me that his job, shared with other adults, was to prepare the children and young people for the reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation, Confirmation, Eucharist and Matrimony. In his view, it's normal for Catholic men and women to be involved in the missionary life of the Church.
This day's celebration did not end with the Mass. A group of young people started a game of baseball with the majority of the people joining in. Soon most people were involved in the game to the delight of all - players and fans.
Keep a balance
It reminded me of my young days in the Peace River Country where people worked hard but also had time to worship their God and to unwind after long hours in the fields.
Our God is one of joy, of fellowship and of community. Fellowship among people is a reflection of the fellowship of God, an expression of the profound love of God who is Father/Mother, Son and Holy Spirit.
Created in God's image and likeness, we, like the people of La Laguna, are invited to join into the dance and enter into the joy of the Blessed Trinity.
In that way we please God, we do God honour and praise and together we build up the Church, God's beloved family, in our churches as well as in our homes.
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